Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Developing Your Spiritual Life by Gazing at Glory:

a Meditation on 2 Corinthians 3:18 (Part 3 of 3)


"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV



     In the last two articles, we looked at the need to have our face unveiled like a camera's lenscap needs to be removed (speaking of God's work of converting us), and we saw that we must have sufficient exposure to God's Word to develop properly.  In this last article of the series on 2 Corinthians 3:18, we find this truth concerning our spiritual lives:


3. Time must be given for the image to develop. 


     Proper spiritual development occurs as a progressive change.  To be changed and conformed to the image of Christ is a process that takes time.  The amount of time it takes for pictures to develop with older cameras compared to modern digital ones is a major difference in those types of technology.  There is no instant digital process to immediately make Christians as Christlike as they need to be, apart from that glorious day that is our blessed hope, when believers are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).  There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity; no one suddenly attains to sinless perfection in this life.  Remember that the apostle Paul wrote of his struggles with indwelling sin in Romans 6 and 7 referring to his experience as a believer.

     However, praise be to God, believers do become more Christlike as they behold the glory of God in His Word.  The Spirit of the Lord is changing believers "from glory to glory," that is, from one degree of glory to the next, like the stages of a metamorphosis He has activated in us.  We are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), but we are like men with a deadly disease being reversed by the antidote.  The cure has begun its work but full recovery takes time.

     Because spiritual development is a progressive change, we must remember that we will never "arrive" in this life.  No one reaches a point where he or she can no longer grow as a Christian.  This reminds us that we should be teachable as long as we live, and open to change and challenge if clearly instructed from God's Word.

     The fact that we can always grow spiritually means we always have something to look forward to.  As we continually expose ourselves to the glory of God in His Word with our unveiled face, the indelible stamp of His image on our lives will become more and more obvious as the days and years pass.


     So, how does your spiritual life compare to a camera? 

     Is the lenscap off?  In other words, are you converted?  Are the words of God a mystery and nonsense to you?  Or has God's Spirit unveiled your face?  This is everyone's natural condition, because of man's rebellion against God.  Although the image of God has been marred and shattered in man, Christ came to redeem us.  This sinless One lived a perfect life and died as a substitute for sinners, bearing the punishment we deserved.  He rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven and is returning to the earth one day.  If the lenscap is still on and all is dark, look to Him for this change that you can never make.  You can never turn over enough "new leaves" to make yourself a new creation and raise yourself from spiritual deadness, but the omnipotent God who spoke the world into existence and raises the dead can do this by His Spirit.  Turn to the Lord; trust in Jesus Christ the Lord, so that you will know what it is like to have an unveiled face.

     Are you receiving sufficient exposure?  In other words, are you getting quality and quantity time in God's Word, or just catches glimpses here and there?  Be sure you are setting aside a regular, daily time to read God's Word, meditate on it and apply it to your life.  There is no spiritual development if you ignore the Word of God, where you see the image that God changes you into.  Gaze at His glory in His Word; steadfastly behold it, looking intently to learn what He would teach you.

     What does your development show?  Are there signs of growth?  Are you on an upward path?  True Christians, as all living things, will grow.  But remember that this growth is a process.  Do not compare yourselves to others, but to God's Word, which is the standard.  Comparison to those who are not as mature may lead to pride.  Comparing yourself with those who are more mature may lead to despair.  Comparing yourself to the rule of God's Word will give you an accurate picture whereby you may assess your spiritual development, which should lead, over time, to a growing hatred of sin and a deepening love for God, His Word and His people.

    Be sure your lenscap is off, that you are getting proper exposure, and that you are seeing signs of progressive development.  May the Lord increase in us our desire to be like Christ, and may He hasten that blessed day "when He shall appear" and "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).  Until then, may God continually make us more like Christ, as with unveiled faces, we gaze at His glory in His Word.

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